I picked this watch up to meet my requirements as a watch which you can get for under $600, and wear anywhere. And my requirements for wearing anywhere is that it would be a watch I could wear swimming at a resort, traipsing through the woods, or in a Board Room. There’s not many watches which can pull that kind of duty, but of those limited few — Seiko’s Alpinist family is certainly in the mix.
This 1959 re-imagination, the SBDC149, is the revival and modernization of a 1959 mountain climbing watch. And it adds a lot of new stuff: date window, better lume, 70hr power reserve, 200m water resistance — just to name a few things.
This is a stellar watch, and in this emerald green dial, it really pops. It also comes in blue, ivory, and a slate gray color — all of them looking spectacular. I had no other green dials, so that’s the model I choose, and it might represent the best watch you can spend just under $600 on.
Dimensions & Movement
I mentioned the green dial and the pricing above, but what really drew me to this watch is the culmination of the dimensions and movement — this watch gets tantalizingly close to my wishlist for watch specs.
Seiko is using the caliber 6R35 movement, which is an rather unimpressive +25/-15 sec per day rated movement with a very impressive 70 hour power reserve (hand winding, automatic, hacking, with date). They are housing the movement in a nearly perfectly sized case: 38mm in diameter, 46.2mm lug to lug, 12.9mm thick. And the entire thing is water resistant to 200m, which is a really ideal space for me with watches as I have a lot of confidence wearing the watch for whatever when it is sealed to that depth rating.
In practice, the movement looks and works great. It has far less rattle than some of the older Seiko movements (it’s not none, but it’s not an issue here). The watch I received is running around an average of +3 seconds per day, which is exceedingly good (as in don’t expect that as a standard thing). I don’t know how well that would track over a year, but it’s certainly a lot better than many other watches I have tried in this price range.
You can get this watch on a bracelet or a leather strap, here I went leather. It has a deployant buckle on it, and the leather is a rather shiny and stiff variant. It’s nice feeling, but not overly comfortable. If this is going to be something you wear off and on, it will take a while to break in. If you are only wearing this, then it will eventually form nicely. I swapped that strap for a slightly less formal looking one, as the black on the stock strap had enough gloss to make the watch look dressier than I wanted.
In summary for the specs: ideal size, ideal water resistance, good movement, good lume, meh strap. Luckily straps are easy to change.
On the Wrist
I really enjoy wearing this watch. It punches far above it’s weight. If you told me this was a $1,000 watch, I would believe it. Even the watch snobs I am around on a regular basis were impressed with the fit and finish of this watch. It’s striking in person, going from a dark face in low light, to a stunning and vibrant emerald in the sun. It’s not something where I feel like it is on par with luxury watches, but it is something which is well made enough that even someone with luxury watches would find this to be a good watch to wear.
The lume is fantastic, no complaints. There’s ample amounts of it, and it shines bright through the night — passing my testing. The band eventually annoyed me enough that I swapped it out to the one you see here, which made the watch even better to wear. I think it looks great on black leather, but brown would work nicely as well.
This is the type of watch which can truly look good with a suit, but feel equally at home hiking/climbing with a swap of the strap. But you likely need to budget the money to get a different strap, it just didn’t impress me. (The lug width is 19mm, which is a point of contention for some, but in recent years I have had no issues finding anything I want in 19mm.)
There is one odd thing about this watch — the crystal. This watch is a fingerprint magnet on the crystal and seemingly always needed to be wiped clean. I am not sure why this is, but given how this watch looks, the smudges really stood out. It’s odd though, because the watch seems to remain readable regardless, and it wipes clean easily enough. Just a quirk of the watch I guess, as I have seen it on expensive and less expensive watches across the board — it happens on this watch so that’s that.
I wore this out on date nights, to the office, and around town. I don’t have any complaints through all of that. It does its job very well, and almost always looks very good doing it. It is comfortable, the power reserve is amazing, and it’s silent.
With a close look, one detail I love is the golden colored seconds hand, while the rest are polished silver. It’s a really nice touch on this watch which is easily ignored, but when it hits the light right it really looks great.
This watch is a stellar value proposition. It punches above the price point it sells at, looks amazing, and honestly is a pretty good all around buy. I am not going to keep it, but that’s a factor of it duplicating other more expensive watches I already own — thus it wouldn’t get the wrist time. That said, it did get a lot of wrist time over my other watches while I was testing — I very much enjoy it.
Highly recommended, this is a watch worth getting if the looks appeal to you.
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